Friday, May 2, 2014

Report # 124 Cartagena, Colombia May 2, 2014 Friday Chance of rain, 79 degrees, very humid

A Cartagena t-shirt
Today's port of call was Cartagena, Colombia, located on the northern coast of South America. These days it is called the Pearl of the Caribbean, although its history is conflicting. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, Cartagena was a gateway for gold leaving for Spain, and slaves arriving from Africa. Then along came the pirates, such as Sir Francis Drake, who sacked the city, robbing them of their riches. Massive fortifications were built, and have lasted to this day. 

Castle of San Felipe, largest fortification in the city
Protecting the harbor at one time

Serious fortifications
Now lined by a nice beach
Mixed with the Old Walled City, Cartagena has towering high rise buildings, resorts, and hotels for those seeking a warm vacation. There are castles, churches, cathedrals, palaces, museums, many of which are within the Old Walled City, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. 

Rocky entrance to harbor

Probably a place for shipwrecks centuries ago
Party huts
A new construction
The skies were so hazy, photos were not great
The Old Walled City
Historic old town
Cartagena's skyline

Bocagrande Peninsula
Bocagrande Peninsula

Fancy digs

Palm-lined beaches

Hotel and resorts on this peninsula
Highrise skyscrapers

Famous harbor statue
And we have seen them all many times over the years. For that reason, we chose to stay near the ship at the cruise terminal. Another good reason to stick close to home was the fact that all aboard time was 1:30 pm.

Amsterdam docked

While we were dining on deck four, the Coral Princess pulled across from our berth. She must have a gazillion passengers. 

We guess this ship holds about 3000 passengers
The Coral Princess
Our berth
That means there will be about 4000 passengers onshore today, and that is not counting crew members. With the large number of buses parked on the dock, we assume many of those were on tours. We watched from the promenade deck while the people were coming off of the behemoth ship. The line never seemed to stop. Actually, there were two exits on the Coral Princess, which is a good thing.

Walkway to the terminal
Walking to the terminal building, we realized it was going to be a very hot and humid day. Rain would have been welcomed if it happened, which it never did. It was quite overcast today, but what veiled the city was more like smoke or smog. It only added to the stickiness. 

Skies looked like rain was coming.....but never did
This is probably one reason that this is the end of the tourist season. As hurricane season approaches, the weather must get even less comfortable.

The terminal building houses a very nice and air-conditioned shop for souveniers. As well as highend jewelry, they offer coffee, candies, liqueres, clothing and all types of Colombian souveniers. 

Duty Free Shop in the terminal
We always find something to buy in here, and today was no exemption. They sell a collection of locally-made calabash or gourd jewelry sets. We added one more set to the growing collection.

Inside the duty free shop
Local crocheter

Handmade purses
Young girl guarding the yarn

Local handicrafts
Native Colombian

Also native Colombian
Cafe at the cruise terminal
Terminal building....very civilized
Fruit-on-the-head trick to get photos
Outside surrounding this shop are gardens that are full of birds and even some monkeys. Some are caged, but most of the birds are free-flying. 

Walkway among the gardens
Tropical flowers
Fountain outside the terminal
Garden fountain

One rather feisty blue and yellow macaw was having a fine time chasing the folks and trying to chew or untie shoes. He was quite adept at pulling Velcro straps on sandals, showing how smart these birds can be. One thing he did know, was what a cane was, as many of the elderly ladies shooed him away with it.

Two blue and yellow macaws

Blue and yellow macaw

Pretty bird
Turquoise and yellow
Housing for the macaws
Another type of macaw...perhaps a young military macaw
We are not totally sure he was harmless, because with that strong beak, he could be capable of severing a finger if he chose to. Anyway, it was amusing watching his antics as he chased lots of folks.

What else did we see? Well, there were the too familiar peacocks, many of them roosting in the trees overhead. Kind of makes us wonder how noisy they have become at home? Springtime brings out the noise with these birds. A cage in the garden was full of small vermilion cardinals, native to South America.

Vermilion cardinal
Vermilion cardinals, seed & fruit eaters

Also a pretty bird

Also caged were a broad-winged hawk, a band-bellied owl, and a few toucans. 

Broad-winged hawk

Band-bellied owl.....he eats frogs, bats, crayfish & crabs

A warning posture

Channel-billed toucan
They had both the keel-billed toucans and the channel-billed colorful, they did not look real.

Keel-billed toucan

But he is

Too perfect to be real

Four colors in his bill

He is a fruit eater

Another warning

Go away

More photos to enjoy........

Keel-billed toucan
A special breed of monkeys were either in cages or running around loose. They were small, and unfortunately unidentified without any signs showing their name. 

A small & unusual type of monkey

Could not find his name posted anywhere

A face only a mama monkey could love

This one was isolated

May be a new one
At the entrance to the terminal, we saw a flock of greater flamingos, which they have named American flamingos. 

Greater flamingos (American)
The coral color comes from eating shrimps

Some are more colorful than others
Lawn ornament or real?


In the same enclosure with them, were a half dozen black swans. 

Imported black swans
Joining this group were a few large iguanas, who were happy to munch on lettuce their caretakers had just left for them. 


Looks prehistoric
The peacocks also seemed to like the lettuce, like ours do at home.

Outside the terminal, we saw some great egrets, brown pelicans, and the magnificent frigate birds. 

A great egret


Egret food.......small fish
Pelicans perched
Brown pelican
Low-flying pelican

A frigate

Two frigates

Looking for fish
Great-tailed grackles, which look a lot like crows, were sneaking into the enclosures and stealing the bird feed. 

 A dark reddish squirrel was busy eating the papayas and seeds that were left for the birds. We are not huge fans of squirrels, since they are responsible for the destruction of our walnuts, pecans, and almond trees at home. But this one was very neat-looking, and probably just as destructive.

Red squirrel

She found food

If I look really hard, I will find nuts

Think I smell nuts

Maybe down this way
After spending about an hour here, we headed back to the ship. This time we cheated and took the waiting free shuttle back. We were melted and in need of some ice water. Gallons of it. Sailaway was at 1:30pm, and we were surprised to see piles of lounges that will be set up tomorrow on the aft deck while we are sailing through the canal. 

If the weather is as hot as today, we doubt there will be a whole lot of people outside tomorrow. Today there were many more people at the sailaway. 

Sailaway party once again
Dropping the lines
There was also a different type of music back there with the newly-embarked guitar man, David, playing some nice tunes. Guess you can say he is a little bit country, and little bit rock and roll. We like his music, as it is a nice change from the world cruise band. 

David, the solo guitarist
The "Blues" sisters
The Coral Princess was leaving port 1 hour after us
Container ship arriving


Another cargo ship

Pleasure craft
There goes the pilot

Cooling off in our room, we ordered room service lunch while watching a movie, Gravity. It sure was different than most movies we have seen.....really plays with your imagination.

Other things happening today included learning the tango for the Dancing with the Stars at Sea program. One could also sign up for the special dinner, Le Cirque, held in the Pinnacle Grill this evening. We did notice that the price was the usual $49., but the dinner with wine pairing was $69., which we believe was $10 less than on the world cruise. We stuck with the dining room dinner, having entrees of turkey with all of the trimmings.

Let's Get It On, was the show performed by the Amsterdam singers and dancers this evening at 8 and 10pm. Last year, this showtime was at 9:30pm, and we expected that to remain the same on this voyage. Wonder who sets the times on these activities? The cruise director perhaps? Anyway, the heat of the day had left us really tired, so we missed the show again.

Tomorrow will find us all waking up and finding we have started into the Panama Canal locks. Hope the weather cooperates because we like to watch the transit from the outside decks all day.

Leaving the port
Leaving Cartagena

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